Buckingham make strong start to bid for promotion back to the top tier

Katrina Nicholson
Katrina Nicholson

After Great Britain’s golden summer at the Rio Olympic Games, Buckingham Hockey Club are now hoping to enjoy their own successful season and win promotion back to the Investec Premier Division.

They opened up with a draw but two wins since, including Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Firebrands, has taken them third in the Women’s Conference West.

Buckingham made the trip to bristol without captain and GB star Zoe Shipperley who who has been ruled out until Christmas with an ankle injury.

Perhaps this affected the squad as they began poorly against Firebrands, unable to find their usual fluency in attack as the hosts came at Buckingham from the start.

The first half ended honours even with goalkeeper Ella Jackson making a couple of timely interventions whilst at the other end, the visitors spurned a number of very good opportunities.

After regrouping at half-time, the side started to pass and handle the ball better which resulted in them gradually gaining control, and it was not long before a period of pressure and some fine passing involving Lottie Porter and Abbie Brant saw Welsh international Phoebe Richards neatly deflect the ball home.

With Buckingham now firmly in the ascendency, they doubled their lead on 51 minutes when the outstanding Katrina Nicholson carried powerfully through midfield and unleashed shot-come-cross that found its was into the net with the help of a defensive deflection.

Ten minutes later Buckingham sealed victory with their third goal following a re-awarded penalty corner. The second time around, a well-rehearsed routine saw captain and MVP Kitty Higgins deflect the ball spectacularly into the roof of the net.

Despite continued pressure for the remainder of the match, Buckingham were unable to extend their lead further but were happy to come away from a tough encounter with the 3-0 victory.

“Saturday certainly wasn’t our best performance,” admitted the club’s head coach Zak Jones afterwards.

“We started poorly and really struggled to get any of or usual tempo or flow into the game in the first half. This was, in part, due to our inconsistent ball handling but credit must also go to Firebrands who really made it difficult for us in the first period. .

“Things did improve in the second half once we managed to increase the tempo of the game and put more phases of play together.

“I also felt our superior fitness really came through in the last 15 to 20 minutes, which is a real positive. Despite it being a slightly frustrating performance, it is very pleasing to know that we can win well, away from home even when not paying that well.”

This week they travel away to take on top of the table Olton for what could be a crucial encounter.